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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)

TITLE: The Bradenburg Painting
By Virginia Gorg
01/23/07


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“Is that it?” my husband asked. “That’s the art your great grandmother left you? I hope you put it in the closet – or burn it.”

“It is rather gaudy, but it is colorful. It reminds me of Grandma Hildy – it was the first thing we saw when we visited.”

“It’s a wonder you didn’t get nightmares,” Ted muttered as he left the room.

The painting wasn’t large, only about two feet square. Yet something in its intricate design of swirls drew me. To the right was a detailed drawing of a wooden hut, and one lone star could be seen in the night sky. From that brightly colored star emanated thin streaks of red, yellow, and blue that somehow seemed connected. Tracing them with my finger, they looked like one long continuous line that randomly changed colors. Looking closer, I could see irregular humps, valleys, and dots along the line.

For the next few weeks, I moved the painting from room to room, trying to find the right place. Ted ignored the painting, hoping I would soon trash it. I tentatively settled on leaving it above the fireplace. The contrast of the night sky of the drawing seemed to fit on the pale brick wall.

“Ted,” I said. “I can’t figure it out. Grandma Hildy used to say that those who diligently seek will find the treasure of this artwork. She promised to tell me the secret when I turned sixteen, but dementia took her away. For ten years, I watched her be mentally unaware of anything. I’m glad her death last year was so peaceful. But now I have this painting with no explanation.”

“You could always take it to an art expert. Maybe he can tell you something.”

Curiosity finally made me call the local art dealer. Mr. Rittenhouse was leaving for a two-week vacation but promised to see me when he returned. “In the meantime, why don’t you get a powerful magnifying glass and see if you can find the artist’s name. It must be there somewhere. That should certainly help to identify if it’s worth anything.”

So I bought a magnifying glass and returned home. Peering intently at the painting, I began to see a pattern. “Words,” I exclaimed with only the cat to hear me, “those lines are words.” There seemed to be an incredibly long run-on sentence, with words that didn’t seem to make sense. I read shelter, peace, vine, stronghold, comfort, and wisdom. Nothing seemed to connect. Yet I continued and suddenly saw I AM. Eagerly now, I read more and found cornerstone, bread, life, eternity. Soon I found another instance of I AM. “These are the attributes and names of God,” I said in wonderment.

The colorful lines continued and I read El Shaddai, Almighty, Counselor, and hundreds of other names that described God.

Pausing, I moved to the star and found the words I AM starting at the very center and continuing out to the lines in the sky. I would read the whole thing later, but I wanted to see where it ended. The line ended at the hut, where I could make out the words JESUS IS BORN. SALVATION I AM.

When Ted arrived home, I excitedly showed him what I had found. With two magnifying glasses in hand, we began to search for the artist’s name.

“I found the artist’s name,” Ted said in a hushed voice.

“Who is it? Rembrandt? Renoir?” I asked with a laugh.

Ted’s quietness made me peer into the magnifying glass he held. “Hildy Bradenburg, 1945. That’s my great grandmother. She painted this when she was 30?”

“Yes, the year before she went blind,” Ted whispered.

I could only nod and reply, “even in her blindness, she had more faith than most people I know.”


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Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 01/27/07
Intriguing page-turner which kept me interested right along with the writer...wondering, pondering, searching. My curiosity made me want to find the treasure also. Nicely done, and enjoyed the read. Thanks! (Sounds like a beautiful picture, and it's sentamental too...painted by a relative).
Sharlyn Guthrie01/28/07
What a lovely heirloom, and I think that your story does it justice.
Jen Davis01/31/07
This was such a captivating read. You did a great job of pulling the reader in and keeping the reader’s interest throughout. I enjoyed the story and was touched that the painting was done by the grandmother. Thanks for sharing.